Musician Impressed With the Combination of Eastern and Western Instruments

October 13, 2014 4:22 am Last Updated: October 13, 2014 5:53 am

WASHINGTON—Scott Merritt, a horn player and musical instrument maker, attended the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra performance on Oct. 12 at the Kennedy Center.

Mr. Merritt used to perform with a number of orchestras in Germany, but he has retired from playing professionally.

But a musician will always be interested in musical performances, especially one that so masterfully blends the music of the West and the East.

The Shen Yun website said, the “Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra blends the spirit of Chinese music with the power of a Western orchestra. All-original compositions draw upon five millennia of culture and legends. Western strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass accentuate the sound of ancient Chinese instruments—like the two-stringed erhu and the plucked pipa.”

Mr. Merritt said he was intrigued with the way the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra blends the two different styles of music: “The music is great. I like it very much. I’m very interested in the way that the European style instruments can work together with the Chinese instruments. I thought that there would be problems with intonations, but there are no problems, andnd it’s very, very interesting.”

Listening for the first time the erhu, or as it is cited by some the two-stringed Chinese violin, was of great interest to Mr. Merritt. “I liked this instrument very much.”

The Shen Yun website explains that this instrument has been heard in China for 4,000 years, and “is extraordinarily expressive” and “in the hands of a master, the erhu transforms into a vehicle of joy, sorrow, grace, or tenderness.”

‘New experience’

Mr. Merritt said that this orchestra was a new experience for him, “I have never heard of anything like that in an orchestra setting.”

Three erhu soloists with the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra perform at the the Kennedy Center, on Oct. 12, 2014. (Lisa Fan/Epoch Times)
Three erhuists perform with the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra at the the Kennedy Center, on Oct. 12, 2014. (Lisa Fan/Epoch Times)

He said he was in for a pleasant surprise from the opening piece, “Grand Descent of the Deities,” which impressed him greatly, and was also particularly intrigued by the piece “Sorrow Melts Away”: “The part with the 3 violins [erhus] playing in front and I heard also some instruments that sounded like mandolins, which were plucked, was very interesting.”

Reporting by Grace Yao, NTD Television and Heide B. Malhotra

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is on a seven-city tour with performances in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and Sarasota, from Oct. 4–27. For more information, visit Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra.